Sister Mildred Gelis, OSB, was known for motoring around Saint Leo University on her little scooter.
When her scooter failed her, her mechanical skills went to work — to get it running again. She also was known to have a knack for maintaining cars, helping to keep costs down for her community of the Benedictine Sisters of Florida, who live in Holy Name Monastery in St. Leo.
These are among the memories of Sister Mildred shared in a news release from the Benedictine Sisters of Florida, who also announced her passing, which occurred on July 26.
Sister Mildred was born on June 28, 1925, and grew up in Slidell, Louisiana. She is survived by her Benedictine Sisters community, and several nieces and nephews, including Michael and Cynthia Lewis.
She attended public school, and when Our Lady of Lourdes School opened, the Gelis children went there. Our Lady of the Lourdes was staffed by the Benedictine Sisters from Holy Name, in Florida, and although she was very young, Sister Mildred became convinced she wanted to become a nun.
So, after her high school graduation in June of 1942, she left home and received her training as a Sister in the Order of St. Benedict at Holy Name in St. Leo.
She then attended Mount St. Scholastica College, in Atchison, Kansas.
Sister Mildred received her undergraduate degree from Loyola University, in New Orleans, and a graduate degree in Theology from St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota.
She taught in parochial schools in Ocala, Jacksonville Beach and Sarasota.
She also taught at a little rural public school in St. Joseph, where she taught a combined class of first, second, third and fourth grades.
After 31 years of teaching and leadership positions, she retired in 1981.
That retirement was short-lived.
Sister Mildred decided to return to school to learn printing; after that, she went to work for Saint Leo University, eventually running its Copy Center.
Although she loved the work, she did say “the pressure of meeting deadlines could get hectic at times,” according to the release.
Her other roles in service in her community included Scholastic Mistress, sub-prioress, and councilor. She also volunteered for a number of years on the St. Leo town commission.
Sister Mildred was remembered in a vigil and a Mass of the Resurrection last weekend.
Anyone wishing to honor Sister Mildred can direct donations in her memory to Benedictine Sisters of Florida, P.O. Box 2450, St. Leo, FL 33574; BenedictineSistersOfFl.org.
Published August 07, 2019